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Book Review: Sketch by Sketch: Along Nova Scotia’s South Shore, by Emma FitzGerald

September 14, 2017

Artist Emma FitzGerald has just released her second book of sketches and stories about Nova Scotia. Sketch by Sketch (128pp, fully illustrated in color) is available in bookstores starting Sept. 15, 2017.

This book is a natural followup to her debut, Hand Drawn Halifax, which we’ve previously reviewed here.

The first volume took us on a local’s tour of FitzGerald’s adopted home town – this time we’re travelling down the rugged coast of Nova Scotia. Home to fishermen and boatwrights, and the ancestral territory of the Mi’kmaw people.

FitzGerald’s drawings remain fresh and direct. Charming sketches, clearly executed quickly – in the moment. Probably she does many of these agile pen drawings, looking for the perfect gems.

Along the way, she collects stories and bits of overheard conversation relating to whatever she’s inspired to sketch. FitzGerald has an engaging conversational style of writing. She gives us factual anecdotes about the history of the towns and waterways, or short bio’s of the quirky entrepreneurs that work and live in these small communities.  But the highlights for me are her cleverly annotated overheard conversations.

I get the feeling a young woman quietly sketching in the corner can probably get away with a lot of eavesdropping. Her pen jots down bits of cross-talk along with her un-spoken retorts. She’s got the sharp tongue of an East coaster, but the politeness of a Canadian not to speak up – at least not that she tells us.

The stories, next to the drawings, gradually build up a sense of the region. We clearly feel the locals’ love of this challenging place to live. Something you can only get from a sustained sketchbook. Not the flyby sketch-tourism of the weekender or the round-the-world traveler.

As with the first book, at the heart it’s about the community. Through her drawings we check in to some of the area’s odd little ventures. Such as The Littlest Flower Farm – a woman who harvest flowers from natural sources – road side ditches!

Or a workshop of sail makers who sew while sitting in holes cut through the floor – so the sails can spread out on the floorboards.

We get local recipes, such as Rose Vinegar, and the secrets of how IronWorks Distillery gets the pear into the bottles of Pear Eau de Vie.

FitzGerald’s second sketchbook is a perfect companion to the first, and a great gift for anyone summering on Nova Scotia’s South Shore. Certainly every Bed and Breakfast in the area should have these on their lending shelf :)

If you’re in the Halifax area, Emma is doing two public appearances to promote the book and meet her readers! You can get a book signed, or just say hello in person on Wed. Nov 22 at the Central Library’s Paul O’Regan Hall,  6:30 to 8:30 or at the Lunenburg School of the Arts, Nov 23, 7-9pm. If you do stop by to say hello, perhaps you can ask her about her next project Hand Drawn Vancouver! to be published by Appetite of Penguin Random House, projected for release in 2019.

You can purchase Sketch by Sketch  at the usual online retailers [ ] <affiliate links, thx], or check your local bookshop. If they don’t have it, I’m sure they can place an order from Formac Publishing of Halifax.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Lucie permalink
    September 14, 2017 1:15 PM

    Thank you for this review. Every sketch artist has a different style and I love pouring over all the images and noticing details. I will be looking for this book, love everything related to Canada. Have a great day.


  1. Book Review: Hand Drawn Vancouver, by Emma FitzGerald | Citizen Sketcher

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